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2011 budget statement on Thursday; Parliamentary Update - Bill Watch 48/2010
Veritas
November 23, 2010

The House of Assembly will resume on Thursday 25th November for the 2011 Budget Statement

The Senate remains adjourned until 8th February

2011 Budget Statement Set for Thursday 25th November

Minister of Finance Tendai Biti will present his Budget Statement to the House of Assembly this Thursday 25th November. Admission to the Public Gallery to hear the Budget Statement is by invitation or for ticket-holders. Seating is limited, so anyone wishing to attend should contact Parliament’s Public Relations office to see if there are any tickets still available. Tel: 252936/55 or 700181/2/3 and ask for Mr Moyo, extension 2309. There is a separate Press Gallery for journalists; it is also advisable for them to check the availability of seats with Mr Moyo.

After the Budget Statement the Minister will table the Estimates of Expenditure for 2011 and a draft Finance Bill to give effect to any proposed tax changes. Then the House will adjourn until Tuesday 7th December to allow members and portfolio committees time to study the Budget in preparation for the Budget debate; portfolio committee chairpersons will present their committees’ reports to the House during the debate.

President Zuma to visit Harare following Cancellation of SADC Troika Meeting in Gaborone

The expected meeting of the Troika of the SADC Organ for Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation in Gaborone on Friday 19th November did not take place – only South African President Zuma arrived for it – the chairperson President Banda of Zambia and member President Guebuza of Mozambique did not turn up. This was in spite of the SADC Secretariat having invited Prime Minister Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara to attend the meeting, to be held on the sidelines of the official opening of the new SADC headquarters building on Saturday. President Zuma took the opportunity to have a short meeting with all three GPA principals. The upshot is that President Zuma intends to visit Harare soon and wishes to see a Troika meeting take place before the end of the year.

In Parliament Last Week

The House of Assembly sat on Tuesday and Wednesday. It then adjourned until Thursday 25th November.

Bills

  • Small Enterprises Development Corporation Amendment Bill – was tabled and then referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC].
  • Criminal Laws Amendment (Protection of Power, Communication and Water Infrastructure) Bill – went through its Second Reading and Committee Stages. Minor Committee Stage amendments were referred to the PLC.
  • Attorney-General’s Office Bill – went through both its Second Reading and Committee Stage. Amendments were made at the request of the Minister of Justice and referred to the PLC. The amendments, suggested by the PLC when it first saw the Bill, are designed to ensure that any delegation of functions by the Attorney General’s Office’s Board will be to a Board committee rather than to the Office’s Director of Administration, as envisaged in the gazetted version of the Bill.
  • Energy Regulatory Authority Bill – went through its Second Reading on Wednesday. Committee Stage will be on 7th December, when the Minister of Energy and Power Development will propose amendments, including proposals for a Petroleum Importers Levy.
  • Public Order and Security Amendment Bill [H.B. 11, 2009] – still awaits its Committee Stage.

Motion: The condolence motion for the late former Provincial Governor Ephraim Masawi saw heated exchanges when MDC-T members criticised the existing procedures and criteria for declaration of national heroes under which the late governor had been accorded national hero status.

Wednesday Question Time: The following questions were among those dealt with:

Suspension of pegging of mining claims: The Deputy Minister of Mines confirmed that pegging of claims has been temporarily suspended over almost two-thirds of the country, because existing maps are in such poor condition that over-pegging disputes have resulted. Maps are being computerised to enable pegging to be resumed, perhaps by the end of the year.

2009 O and A Level Pass Rates: The Deputy Minister of Education revealed that the O Level pass rate for the country was 19.66%, with rural schools at 19.85% and urban schools at 16.95%. The male pass rate [21.85%], both rural and urban, was better than the female pass rate [17.83%]. The A Level pass rate was 80.92%, with rural schools at 82.16% and urban schools at 79.35% - and males [78.3%] being outshone by females [83.54%].

Comparison between ZIMSEC and Cambridge pass rates: The Deputy Minister of Education said he could not provide comparative figures because schools offering Cambridge and other examination boards did not have to submit statistics to the Ministry.

School enrolment: The Deputy Minister of Education gave details of school enrolment: In 4895 primary schools the total enrolment was 2 662 384 [boys 1 335 597, girls 1 326 787] and in 1748 secondary schools the total enrolment was 863 526 [boys 436 241, girls 427 285].

Parliamentary Legal Committee [PLC]: The PLC did not meet to consider the Committee Stage amendments to the two Bills referred to it during the week.

On the Parliamentary Programme for this Week

The Senate – is adjourned until February, but members of the Senate are traditionally invited to listen to the Budget speech from the Public Gallery. This is not the same as a joint sitting, so even if the persons the MDC-T are saying are not legitimate Senators attend, it should not lead to any objections.

The House of Assembly will not sit on Tuesday or Wednesday. The main item of business on Thursday will be the Budget Statement [see above]. Other items on the Order Paper are unlikely to be dealt with.

Parliamentary Legal Committee: The PLC is expected to meet to consider the Committee Stage Amendments to the:

  • Criminal Laws Amendment (Protection of Power, Communication and Water Infrastructure) Bill
  • Attorney-General’s Office Bill.

Non-adverse reports by the PLC will clear the way for these Bills, as amended, to be passed by the House of Assembly and transmitted to the Senate.

Other Committees: Notice of portfolio and thematic committee meetings open to the public were sent out in Bill Watch Special of 20th November.

Business Already Awaiting Attention by the Senate

The list of items from the House awaiting Senate attention remains the same as in Bill Watch 47/2010 of 13th November:

Bills Awaiting Introduction in Parliament

The following Bills have been printed and gazetted:

  • Deposit Protection Corporation Bill [gazetted 22nd October]
  • General Laws Amendment Bill [gazetted 22nd October]
  • National Incomes and Pricing Commission Amendment Bill [gazetted 5th November]

Statutory Instruments Gazetted 19th November

SI 175/2010 establishes a new district [Guruve] in Mashonaland Central province; this is backdated to 1st May, which is contrary to legal principle.

SI 176/2010 fixes at $2 000 the penalty an aircraft company must pay for bringing in a passenger without valid travel documentation.

SI 154/2010 – Road Traffic Regulations – Deferment Announced but not yet Gazetted

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport has confirmed that the Ministry will defer to the 1st June 2011 the commencement of SI 154/2010. This statutory instrument contains the new Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use) regulations; among many other matters it restricts the importation of second-hand motor vehicles, limits the use of left-hand drive vehicles, and requires all vehicles to have fire extinguishers and reflective warning triangles. It was due to come into force next week, on 1st December. The deferment has not been gazetted, so it is not yet legally effective.

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